I’m delighted to say that I have been successful in being awarded a small amount of research funding by the Legal Education and Research Network (LERN) for a project entitled ‘LGBTQ Student Identities and the Law School’.  I’m in the process of getting final ethical approval from Northumbria and will commence the empirical work early in the new year, with initial findings (subject to the paper being accepted) being presented at the Association of Law Teachers Annual Conference in April 2014.

This project will seek to explore the nature and form that Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer/Questioning (LGBTQ) sexual identities take and what they mean for law students in England.  The student journey, from applying to Law School, life at Law School (within and beyond the classroom) and post-Law School career ambitions will be explored.  The empirical project will consider how at each of these different stages LGBTQ identities manifest and are ‘performed’.

The project is qualitative in nature and is based on semi-structured telephone interviews with students who self-select as LGBTQ, and ‘Law Student’. The approach will draw particularly upon the work of Austin et al (1998) and Strader et al (2008) who focussed upon exploring the US LGBT student journey from applying to Law School through to the way those identities informed the Law School experience.

The research will be restricted to higher education institutions only but will be inclusive within that umbrella term. Thus incorporating undergraduate and postgraduate law students (both taught masters and professional level qualifications in the form of LPC, BPTC and also the GDL), and those students who might be undertaking a joint honours programme but who self-identify as a law student.  Calls for participation will be issued via the National Law Students Forum, social media and snowball sampling will also be utilised. Students that have been taught or continue to be taught by the applicant will not be excluded, but will not be actively recruited to the sample. Participant anonymity will be assured through the use of pseudonyms and removal of any information from which the participants could be identified, and although institutional profile data will be sought, individual institution names will not be solicited or revealed.   As with most qualitative studies, the sample will not seek to be statistically representative of the subject as a whole.